US lawmakers introduce bill to strip terror suspects of citizenship rights

[JURIST] A group of US lawmakers introduced a bill [press release] Thursday that would strip US citizenship rights from those suspected of engaging in terrorism [JURIST news archive]. The Terrorist Expatriation Act (TEA) [text, PDF; summary, PDF], introduced by Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Scott Brown (R-MA) and Representatives Jason Altmire (D-PA) and Charlie Dent (R-PA) [official websites], would allow the State Department [official website] to revoke the citizenship of a US national who provides material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) or who engages in or supports hostilities against the US or its allies. Under the proposed law, the State Department would make an administrative determination that a US Citizen has indicated an intent to renounce their citizenship by supporting an FTO. That individual would then have the right to appeal that determination within the State Department and then to a federal district court. The bill would amend an existing federal statute [8 USC s. 1481 text] that identifies seven ways Americans can lose their citizenship for engaging in specific acts "with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality." Lieberman said [statement], "[t]hose who join such groups join our enemy and should no longer be entitled to the rights and privileges of US citizenship, including the rights and privileges of having a US passport that can be used as a tool to wage terror against America." The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) decried the proposal [press release] as "unconstitutional and ineffective."

Among the examples Lieberman cited was the recent arrest of accused Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad. Shahzad, a Pakistani-born US citizen has been charged [JURIST report] with five counts, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to kill and maim people in the US, using and carrying a destructive device, transporting an explosive device, and attempting to damage building, vehicles, and other property. Shahzad's arrest has stirred up controversy [Capitolist report] over whether terrorism suspects should be read Miranda rights. Lieberman also cited the December arrest [JURIST report] of Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, accused of attempting to set off an explosive device on an airplane bound from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day. Abdulmutallab, who was also read his Miranda rights, has entered a plea of not guilty [JURIST report].

 

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